Rooting for America doesn’t have to diminish others

Published 9:36 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

As the Summer Olympics continue to steamroll toward their climax in Rio, these games have been a good reminder that there is a fine line between national pride and ethnocentrism.

The former is what made our country great, while the latter is a flawed worldview that diminishes our ability to succeed in a global economy and a society that is more connected than ever before.

Just as a refresher, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines ethnocentrism as “having the belief or based on the idea that your own group or culture is better or more important than others.”

That this viewpoint is even actually detrimental can be a hard concept for many Americans to grasp as a superiority complex is ingrained in us from a young age. The perspective that the way our country does things isn’t the only way to do it is pretty much viewed as unpatriotic.

Of course, the Internet and unprecedented globalization has helped some people realize that every culture is unique, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

The Olympics have actually forced citizens of all cultures to see that people from all across the world are in fact just that: people.

We all have hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, imperfections, desires and many other shared traits.

Our commonalities bond us far more than our differences will ever separate us.

Only a very small percentage of Americans can say they are actually from here. Almost all of our ancestors came from somewhere else, hence the concept that our great nation was built as this magnificent melting pot.

Diversity is one of the key elements that have made our country special. We shouldn’t lose sight of that.

Does that mean we shouldn’t cheer for Michael Phelps to keep winning gold medals or for our gymnasts to dominate all the other countries? Of course not.

As Americans, we should feel like we are the greatest country in the world — and we should wear that like a badge of honor — but we cannot ever forget that different doesn’t mean inferior.


Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at